tv Deadline White House MSNBC August 8, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
p.m. eastern. you can always find me on twitter and instagram on snapchat. nicole wallace is here right now. hi everyone, it's 4:00, fire and fury like the world has never seen. that was president trump's warning to north korea. reacting in the last hour to news that north korea is one step closer to putting a nuclear weapon on a missile. u.s. intelligence officials confirm today that north korea has produce adminturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside their missiles. the news was first reported by the washington post and has since been confirmed by nbc news. u.s. officials believe north korean leader kim jong-un possesses as many as 60 nuclear weapons. no one believes that there are good options for dealing with this rogue regime and everyone agrees that this will be the focus of intense concern and alarm by american national security officials. president trump just reacted to
the news and may have ratcheted things up even further. >> north korea best not make anymore threats to the united states. they will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. he has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. and as i said, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. >> let's goat our correspondents nbc's kristen welker who is with the president, ken leiny, kiir simmons in london, and peter baker, chief white house reporter. kris enwelker, first to you, what is the president threat wng fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which the world has
never seen? >> reporter: well, what the president said today was certainly stepped up rhetoric, but it is consistent with what we've heard from other top officials within the administration, including the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nick kentucky haley who made it clear that all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with north korea, including military options. now obviously military action is a last resort. it has been a last resort under the obama administration, under previous administrations because there are so many people in the potential path of military action in that region. particularly in south korea as well as thousands of u.s. troops who are stationed there in the demilitarized zone. so it is a last resort, but the u.n. ambassador making it very clear it's one that they would use and the president echoing those comments and ramping them up. now the developments that you talked about, nicole really represent an escalation on a scale at a faster pace than the administration was anticipating. and it comes after the u.n.
voted unanimously to oppose an unprecedented billion dollars worth of sanctions on north korea. what was striking about that is that the u.s. got russia and china to get on board. we know that the president spoke with his secretary of state for an hour yesterday here from new jersey. secretary of state has been pressing asian nations, nations within the region to essentially choke out north korea. both economically and diplomatically. most recently, really sending that message to leaders in thailand. we are waiting for another briefing here, nicole, from kellyanne conway and hhs secretary tom price, not exactly their wheel house, but i anticipate we will be able to ask kellyanne conway a number of questions about this developing story as we continue to monitor it here. nicole. >> kristen welker, the white house is on a footing to react to news that's terrifying to many americans and our friends and allies around the world, but it's important to note that as the stories spread like wild
fire through the print media on the internet and through cable news, the president was tweeting about some of his favorite topics, raging about fake news, i saw you make an appearance a few hours ago before we had that statement that the white house press pooler covered and then shared with the rest of the press core. talk about the messages that were coming out from america's commander in chief as this story was first being learned about by most americans who were watching tv or following the news on the internet or on twitter. >> reporter: well one of the tweets you referenced, nicole, took aim at the washington post and the "new york times." news outlets of being concerned about slow to report on that meeting of course that occurred during the campaign between former president bill clinton and loretta lynch, and of course, that was such a lightning rod at the time because there was an investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails, he also
talked about fake news, the fact that the polls don't represent what is happening. that he has been the most successful president, particularly in these early days of his administration, more than his predecessors, you're right, the messages discordoned, remember, nicole, he woke up to new polls which showed that his approval rating dipped and dipped among some of his core supporters. so i think this came at a time when he has been consistently pushing back against those narratives throughout the day. we should make it very clear, we're still not quite clear what he was talking about in that initial tweet of those accusations against the washington post and the "new york times." at this point, no indication of what he tweeted out is actually accurate, nicole. >> kristen welker, thank you, covering all aspects of this unconventional presidency on really an kpla ordinary and terrifying day. you have nightly news duty, we're going to let you go, but we appreciate you spending time with us. ken, you broke this news for our network, tell us more about the
development, about what danger we're in here on our mainland and about how the intelligence agencies seem to continue to be blindsided by the speed with which the north koreans are hitting these benchmarks and these milestones in their nuclear program. >> nicole, there's no doubt that this is happening earlier than people had expected. and look, north korea is the toughest spying target in the world. intelligence officials will tell you that. we have no embassy in north korea, it's not like question send agents there, the communications intercept capability is limited because the society's not connected by the internet. so this is a hard target. and that brings up a point here, what we're talking about is an assessment. it's not proof, it's an estimate of where u.s. intelligence officials think north korea is along the nuclear continuum, that said, it's a significant development that u.s. officials believe that north korea has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon to the point that they can place it on an icbm,
intercontinental ballistic missile and we know from the test last month that north korean missile could potentially hit the united states. now does that mean we have a armed missile ready to fire at chicago? no, it doesn't my sources tell me because there are other aspects that they have not perfected, including reentry, the ability to make sure that the missile and the warhead gets through the atmosphere without disent grating with it really puts the pressure on the trump administration to come up with a policy solution to what is the most intractable, difficult situation in foreign affairs, nicole. >> kiir, when you were here last week, we talked about the grim reality of going to war with a regime like north korea, and that to put american lives in danger, to put the lives of our allies and south korea in danger, he doesn't actually have to successfully land a missile on the continental u.s., he has targets much closer, and there are thousands of americans much closer. talk about that a little bit. >> that's absolutely right.
i mean, there are almost 30,000 american service men and women on the korean peninsula and of course that doesn't include the ordinary americans many who live there. look, the president talked about fire and fury, let's add another word, fear. we were, nicole, monitoring the news services, the news channels around the world here in the europe and middle east and russia for example, and the difference between the way that they were reporting the news coming from the u.s. and the new assessment of north korea's nuclear missile capability, that was reported intermittently on those channels, but the president's threat, if you like, is now leading many of the stations around the world because what will really worry many governments and particularly in that region, and we've talked about it, nicole, is the escalation, is the idea that the u.s. feels it has to act, that north korea then feels
it has to respond and that what you end with is, for example, north korea firing the fearsome artillery that it has along the border into seoul, hundreds of thousands possibly more being killed. and that's a scenario ian without the potential for some kind of a nuclear strike by either side. so, it is an issue that is getting government's attention, it's getting population's attention around the world, but it's not quite seeing as you might expect, in the same way from the same angle as it is from washington. >> peter baker, can you jump in and pick up on kiir's point about fear. was the president's strategy -- first of all, let me ask you, was it a strategy? was it crafted with the help and support of people like general kelly, his new chief of staff, and general mcmaster, his national security advisor? >> well look, we know that
general kelly has been here basically almost the entire time since president trump arrived for vacation in new jersey. working vacation on friday, he was meeting with him on this opioid crisis along with other aids. they had to know they were going to be asked this question, of course. so you would think that there had been some consultation about what it was he was going to say. having said that, the tone of the language, you know, most presidents try to express firmness, try to express, you know, the idea of resolute response to try to make sure that north korea understands the stakes involved in these types of moments. fire and fury takes it to a next level. the colorful nature of the language, the nature almost suggesting a nuclear holocaust goes beyond what previous presidents have said out loud and really does ratchet up the tensions in a visceral way. >> what are the consequences of talking about fire and fury, either accidental or intentional
illusion to what you just described nuclear power. i have never heard a modern american president threaten fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen, and i guess i just to want stay on this question about whether this was a statement recommended by, approved by, condoned by, recommended by generals mcmaster or kelly. >> well, we'll have to do some more reporting on that, i think. it did look like he was reading from something. he was saying something that was intended to be said. and i think that you're right about that. i haven't heard another president use this type of language, certainly not in a long time, and it is very e rock istive. i think the calculation here is that kim jong-un understands force, understands strength, and that's all he understands, and therefore it's incumbent upon the american president to be as clear and threatening as possible so that there is no misunderstanding, because other presidents have clearly been reluctant to get involved in a war in korea for good reason.
now, whether this means this president would be willing to do that, obviously we don't know. h.r. mcmaster, the general who is his national security advisor was interviewed on msnbc by hugh hewitt and did say that military options are definitely on the table. he seemed to go beyond the ritualistic on the table but we're not planning to use it kind of language we hear from the white house. these are moments -- >> peter, let me play that. let me play that, and we'll talk about it on the other end. here it is. here's hr mcmaster, the -- >> what you're asking is are we preparing plans for a preventive war? right a war that would prevent north korea from threatening the united states with a nuclear weapon? and the president's been very clear about it it. he said he's not going to tolerate it. north korea being able to threaten the united states. look at the nature of that regime. if they have nuclear weapons to threaten the united states. it's intolerable from the president's perspective. of course we have to provide all options to do that. and that includes a military
option. >> so peter, to your point, abundantly clear that they have prepared, at least, a military option should the president choose to go in that direction. >> yeah, that's right, exactly. you can't make this bluff work if it is a bluff unless you are prepared to take, you know, take action. now the question is what would trigger that action? we've already seen several red lines crossed in the six months of this administration. the test, seemingly successful, intercontinental ballistic missile, now this discussion about whether a warhead might fit on that missile. as ken said earlier, that's not the final stage of creating a nuclear-capable weapon that could hit the united states, but it does take the tension level much higher. >> ken, what do the intelligence agencies tell you about the degree of difficulty, of actually -- before you can launch a military attack, you have to be able to locate the sites that would prevent north korea from being able to reassemble it's nuclear program.
how good is our intelligence about north korea's nuclear program and their military sites? >> it's not very good, nicole, is my understanding. and further, it would be extremely difficult for the u.s. to take out the artillery pieces buried in rock and arrayed against seoul. in fact, one official told me last week that nothing short of a nuclear strike would -- would make sure that those were eliminated. and so, you're going to have a situation with tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of civilians killed if north korea responds to any american strike with an artillery barrage on seoul. it's a thorny and difficult military situation which is why experts on the air all day have been saying, the proper response to this is deterrence, if north korea's a nuclear power, then the united states needs to approach it, send the message that any use of those nuclear weapons would be the end of your regime and we negotiate from that position, but the trump administration, policy is not that. it's that this is intolerable, we will not accept north korea having a nuclear threat against american cities, nicole.
>> kiir simmons, last word, what does the world hear when american officials talk about that, which is intolerable and made clear that military options are on the table? >> well, the world hears an impending crisis and what it doesn't hear is certainty. what actually hears is uncertainty. it hears a potential situation where the tension ratchets up, wherefore, example, if there were artillery fired at seoul, the u.s. while it does have air power readily available, might feel it needs to move more ground troops into the area, the north koreans might judge that as a potential -- as they're getting ready for a greater attack and fire more artillery, it ratchets up, and it ends with the u.s. forced to reign down worse munitions on north korea, and remember, this is the final thought here, nicole, remember
that it isn't just the north koreans and the u.s. in the area. it is the japanese, it is the russians, it is the chinese, they have all subsubstantial military forces in this region, and that's the fundamental point. once you start this, you don't know how it ends. >> kiir, who never says anything that helps me sleep at night, thank you for spending some time with us. stay close. come back if you hear anything in the next 45 minutes. ken, you don't help me sleep either, but come back. peter, you're staying with us. joining me at the table, our power house panel today phillip rucker, also msnbc political analyst, politico international affairs columnist, jonathan is a washington post opinion writer and an msnbc contributor, and msnbc analyst elise jordan who was on her 14th hour of work, but who also worked at the national security council during the bush administration.
phillip, you cover this president, we've all watched his every move as a candidate and as a president, but i -- i was taken aback by this language. they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen. >> it's a striking statement. and it's important to remember this north korea problem for the president dating back to before he even came into office when president obama told him that this would be a serious problem. with no easy solutions. and trump -- >> told him that before he was president. this was in their -- i understand, from your paper's reporting that he told him that in the their first meeting in the oval office. >> and it stuck with trump. and trump is somebody who wants and easy solution to the easy win and wants to be able to declare victory. and on north korea there's no easy solution. there's no win. there may not be a victory, and it's confounded him, and he's tried to talk with the japanese, he's tried to talk with the chinese. he's tried all sorts of different ways to gain some leverage on north korea, and he's been unable to do that. >> and susan, he seems to have trotted out all the usual tools
in the shed. the twitter bullying for china. oh i tried, now we're going to get you with some bad trade deals or whatever his threat was for china. he's really touted, yesterday, while our program was on the air, he was lecturing the media about not giving enough attention to the sanction's vote for north korea. which you'll have to explain to me how economic sanctions harm a country that starves their own people, but what tools are left for a president who has trotted out sort of the things that he's used to being able to manipulate a situation with? foreign policy is not real estate. >> well, you know, nicole, it's a good question, seems we've seen him trot out one of his only remaining tools which is to up the rhetoric. and he has done that in a way that, i think, does suggest something we haven't heard before from a president. when was the last time we heard about preventive war? when was the last time we heard about mushroom clouds? you know this is something you're familiar with all too well from the bush
administration and going into the war in iraq. and even then, by the way, the threat of the mushroom cloud was on the side of worrying that saddam hussein possessed nuclear weapons. in this situation, we have more knowledge about the north korean nuclear program, but at the same time, we have in many ways and even more difficult policy dilemma right now. and i'm struck by the fact that whether trump planned this, with general kelly, his new chief of staff, it was at least conscious that he was going to up the rhetoric here in a way that he knows is something that's not familiar. so, i'm asking why did he do it? number one, donald trump has a credibility issue here. right? so does kim jong-un. they both have serious credibility issues. they need to in the wonky language of nonproliferation types, they need to preserve the credibility of their deterrent. what does that mean? we all talk all the time, you know, here on msnbc and elsewhere about the hell scape that would result in an
artillery barrage against seoul. so most people have discredited the idea that there is a credible military threat from the united states. well, donald trump, in a way, has put that right back on the table right now by issuing such inflammatory threats against north korea, even though i think you're both right, the policy doesn't seem to have changed very dramatically. >> peter baker, talk a little bit about how donald trump thinks he's different in all of these situations. he thinks that he's followed a president who was weak. i know you're getting ready to run off to a briefing, peter, sorry to put you on the spot. they've called the briefing at 5:00 p.m. and you're going to have to run off. what does donald trump think he can do differently and better than predecessors who relied on china, like south korea, like russia, to deal with an intractable leader and his predecessor before him in north korea. >> yeah, look, this is all new for him. he hasn't spent any time on this before being president. he didn't serve in the senate or
in any capacity where he would have any experience. so from the outside as a campaign, you know, candidate basically, you know, he was able to criticize the incumbent and criticize predecessors, and now he has, facing the exact same set of limited options, the exact same, you know, intractable situation with no more tools than the other guys had. so i don't think that he has anything that the previous presidents had. he has the same terrible choices. and the question is how he's going to use them. >> peter baker, please come back if you learn anything in the next 39 minutes. thank you so much for spending some time with us. jonathan, pick up right where peter left off. he does like to personalize the world's problems and lay them at the feet. the iraq war wasn't just about bad intelligence, about wmd as soour san correctly points out, it was a lie perpetrated by george w. bush. those were the words of donald trump at a republican primary debate in south carolina. the world's problems weren't
ever the fault of, you know, evil, malevolent leaders who wish us harm. they were somehow because of obama's -- i mean, he never sees anything beyond the personal sort of desire to elevate himself above his predecessors. >> nothing of his mind appears to be complex. it's as simple as well my predecessor didn't do enough. didn't do the right things. didn't do the sorts of things that i think a president should do. and now he's president of the united states. and, i mean, you would hope he would discover that the world is complex. and that north korea, of all the issues, i mean, president obama told then president-elect trump, you know, north korea's something you have to worry about. her last interview with opinion journalists that i sent in on, susan rice, when she was the national security advisor, she was asked what is the number one issue that your -- >> keeps you up at night. >> your successor is going to have to focus on, without
hesitation, she said, north korea. and now we are seeing a situation where the president of the united states as peter said has known about this, clearly he's worried about it, but as we have seen in the past, presidents when presented with a situation like this, they project firmness, but at the same time at least try to project some kind of calming language so that you, nicole, can sleep at night, that the american people won't freak out. that the world will not freak out. and now, we have president trump who has a credibility problem, dealing with a leader in north korea who we have all seen behave ir rationally. you have a swing from the hip president dealing with an ir rational actor who's willing -- whose been lobbying missiles and bombs for months now. you're not going to sleep at night, i, when i heard the president say north korea best
not do this or that we fire and fury, i'm now scared. >> uh-huh. all right. join the club. elise jordan, i want to ask you what i asked kristen welker at the top of the show. as the story was sort of spreading like wild fire, the president was tweeting against some of his, i called them triggers yesterday, whatever you want to call them, he was raging against the polls. we've all covered the fact that he is at a historically low position for any president, i think he has an approval rating around 33%. he's enraged at the media won't fall into line and sing his praises. so enraged he's created his own news channel, while the story was breaking, at a moment when, you're right, when people that don't have access to the information, that don't have your depth of knowledge about how long this has been a challenge, he was tweeting about his personal pet peeves. why can't anyone ever get him to do anything presidential? >> i think it just isn't in his
dna. and i don't necessarily see that changing. instead of, you know, obsessing over a huge philosophical and moral question that our skrnt going to have to grapple with, whether we prevent a war against north korea or accept that north korea is a nuclear power. and that is the huge question that the country needs to debate, that congress needs to debate. and he seems to be more preoccupied with these petty insults, and that's very troubling. and concerning, but at the same time, i would rather him be tweeting about that than inflaming the situation even more. >> he might have done that with a statement. we are keeping an eye down the bottom of the screen on this briefing that's about to start. it was scheduled on opioid addiction which is what the president was supposed to focus on today kellyanne conway. we expect them to be covered with some questions about the president's response to the latest development that north korea has miniaturized a nuclear
weapon to perhaps fit into their long range missiles. and the president's response, quote, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen. stay with us. we'll be right back. ["love is all around" by joan jett & the blackhearts] ♪ who can turn the world on with her smile? ♪ ♪ who can take a nothing day, ♪ ♪ and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? ♪ ♪ well it's you girl, and you should know it. ♪ ♪ with each glance and every little movement you show it. ♪ ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ it takes a long time to get to the top... ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ but with america's best ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ bumper-to-bumper limited ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ warranty, the all-new volkswagen tiguan will be there every step ♪ ow!♪ of the way. he's happy.t's with him? your family's finally eating vegetables thanks to our birds eye voila skillet meals. and they only take 15 minutes to make. ahh! birds eye voila so veggie good
north korea best not make anymore threats to the united states. they will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. he has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. and as i said, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. >> ef lin is an nbc and msnbc
national security analyst and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. she joins us now. first i want your thoughts on what you hear when you hear about fire and fury, but then, take us into a little bit of a reality check. susan makes the point that the president didn't learn of this analysis, this estimation by our intelligence agencies that north korea now has miniaturized a nuclear weapon and is able to perhaps put it successfully put it into a missile. the president has known about that for some time. why do you think the bizarre mix of hate tweets against the media and the polls and then this statement about fire, fury, and power. >> yeah, i mean, nicole, so first just very quickly, the president sounds like a north korean leader. you know, kim jong-un, his dad, they all talked about -- literally sea of fire. that was the threat that they used more often than not. i used to have a huge file
folder of all the crazy, colorful things that the north koreans would say and the names they would call our american presidents. so, president trump sounds more like a north korean leader, unfortunately, than an american leader. the reality check is that right now, i don't think there's a reason to panic. we have to bear in mind that what this leader wants, he came into power in 2011, very end of 2011 when his father died. he was in his 20s. the first thing he had to do was consolidate power, then no one from the outside was going to take out his regime. so first internal control, right? then external control. he's still working on that project. he wants to make sure that we don't take him out because, remember, north korea's still one of the original members of the access of evil. when you were in the white house, we had a rock, and then we had north korea, and then we had iran. and so, two of those powers are still powers we're dealing with on the wmd front.
north korea remembers this very clearly, the third thing though, the thing we don't talk about very much is that actually, this guy grew up in switzerland. he understands what the world is like in a way that his father really didn't. and so he's undertaken some economic reforms. we're not talking about them a lot publicly, and they're very small scale right now, but they look a little bit like china's economic reforms in the 1970s. and so that gets me to the strategy, which needs to be a multi-pronged strategy and i'm sorry if i'm talking too long here, i want to get this in because we need the deterrence, you already covered that with the other guests. we need the sanctions, that's a pressure. keep the pressure on while we're deterring, right, but then we have to have diplomacy. they need to understand what our red lines are. we need to communicate as secretary tillerson has that we're not trying to take out the regime, but they cannot have an active nuclear weapons program. they have to freeze it at a minimum. and then the third thing, and this is i think the thing we haven't talked about very much, but it may be a root to ultimately solving this using
the chinese, is maybe getting the chinese to help with some carrot. so we have the stick, we have the pressure, but the economic reform agenda. the chinese might be able to help with that if the north koreans agree to do all the other things we want them to do first and foremost, stop their tests, and then to ultimately freeze their nuclear weapons program. >> stay with us. we are also waiting for this briefing to start. so if we cut you or any of our guests off, that's the reason. it's not a lack of love or interest in all of your brilliant points, but susan glasser, i want you to weigh in on some of what she ticked flu terms of really why where she started. she sounded like a north korean lead per. >> she's right. the sea of brimstone thing is not the kind of thing you generally hear from an american president, i think we all are searching our minds to look for what sounds like an explicit threat of nuclear action. remember, this is august, generally speaking, it's the anniversary of the american use
of nuclear weapons against japan. it's not the kind of thing any of us have ever heard an american president say. it seemed quite explicit to me. and i'm still wondering what the reporting is going to show about why donald trump decided to up the rhetoric today. was it an off the cuff remark as it appeared to be in some ways number one, and number two, i think the response will be very telling. in terms of this credibility issue that trump has, which is will the world discount it as trumpian over the top rhetoric or will they say, no actually, this is something very different. i also to want address this question of how do we assess what's going on on the north korean side? and kim jong-un. you know, interestingly, you can make this parallel again between trump and kim jong-un, both of them arguably have a credibility question, number one, number two, we're debating a similar thing with both of them, which is, are they acting sort of the madman theory of the case -- >> crazy --
>> i've got to bring you in on this. no one writes better stories than you and your colleagues at the washington post about trump whisperers, and i wonder if this was all trump, peter baker suggested from the other paper that writes equally wonderful stories about this white house, that he was reading for a note card. that these were prepared remarks. take me inside the kinds of people who would talk to him before he gave a statement about fire and fury. >> let's go inside that room. he's in a room at the bedminister golf club in new jersey for an opioid briefing. this was major with his cabinet sec tars and other administrations officials around a table. he brings a pool of reporters into the room and he read a lengthy, prepared statement about the opioid crisis. it wasn't until asked about north korea that he gave that response. we'll have to find out in a reporting, it seemed like it was off the cuff. he seemed to be sort of spouting what came to mind there. it wasn't like he came to read a
statement, a script, if you will about north korea. it wasn't answer to a question. >> you've done incredible reporting and i'm going to jump over to you, elise, we've worked on the inside of a white house dealing with threats like this. i want to ask you about this idea that he likes to vent. i heard from a source today with the rain yesterday, no joke, he was pent up. and that's why he was watching cable all day issue. >> saw it on twitter. >> he was watching table, his normal morning tweet storm strechled into the afternoon. he was raging against the media. these polls are real. these are not fake polls. if they were fake, i'm guessing he wouldn't be so mad about them. his base may like them, but they are shrinking. he feels strongly about size. what are you hearing about their strategy for this 17-day stretch where he's going to be watching cable tv, where he's going to hear the bad things people are saying about him, and he's got this reality of people who were looking at where he stands at 2900 day mark, and it doesn't
look good. >> a couple things we know about donald trump, he likes to have people around him all the time. he likes having people coming in and out of the oval office, getting on the phone, talking to him, doing gut checks, getting their advice on stuff, and when he's secluded in that golf resort. maybe has john kelly there -- >> john kelly's not going to go to the bathroom anymore. >> they're not all floating in and out. he doesn't have his crutch if you will, which is all of the aids giving him information. he wants this information. he wants the printouts of tweets. he wants videos, he wants to watch it all and he city thes will there and stews. the one trip to bedminister is where he decided to fire comey. and that's when he decided comey would have to go. >> elise, i want to put up some poll numbers, 61% of americans, according to a cbs poll are uneasy about north korea. and you've got assume that some of that is because what we have been talking about. the nature of the north korean
leader and his father before that. but, some of this, there are also a lot of numbers out this morning and yesterday about how people just don't trust the things that this white house says. that's not a good situation to be in when you face it international crisis. >> well, and quite frankly, most of us are right now questioning, is donald trump going to be able to pull off this level of nuclear brinkmanship? and the madman theory can be brilliant if that's the tact they're taking -- >> do you think it's a strategy? >> i think it actually is, and i have heard this from people who are familiar with the way the trump administration's thinking about this. that it does put pressure on china, it makes china become a more responsible actor, but at the end of the day, a madman theory can be successful only if the person on the other end isn't actually mad. and we have -- we just don't know how this is going to play out both of these actors right now. >> jonathan, playing the madman
might donald trump have finally hit his stride? >> maybe. but, you know, elise and i were talking during the break and i'm surprised you didn't bring this part up in terms of the madman theory, and i was thinking, and i said before that i thought that kim jong-un was an ir remarkable actor. this is the way north korean leaders have always behaved. but elise said something that made me think, what if kim jong-un is rational? his goal here is the preservation of his regime? and i think -- >> and arsenal. >> he is rational. >> and his arsenal and she was getting to this -- >> let me bring in, from seattle, msnbc military analyst retired barry mccaffrey and naught question to you, could we be dealing with what my old boss, president bush, might have called streej ri. could this be a deliberate plan to talk about fire, fury, and power, the likes of which the world has never seen, to sort of
outcrazy a crazy leader in north korea? >> not a chance. this is just impulsive, ill-thought out action that is unlikely to do anything but move us more toward a confrontation. i think kim jong-un -- i've said the good news is, this is a criminal regime we're dealing with. it's unlikely they'll take an action to destroy througharm geden the north korean regime, but there is a chance, or miscalculation and we know this young guy's worried about his ageing generals, he shoots them periodically to keep them in line, though he thinks those keep up a belligerent front for this war-time nation. 34% of the north korean populations in the act of a reserve military. so, i am -- this was not written by a national security counsel, hr mcmaster, this is right off the top of his head in his hotel.
>> that was my suspicion and fear and i wonder if you've got general kelly as your chief of staff and general mcmaster as your national security advisor, what happens next? what are they doing right now in a private room at bedminister? >> fortunately, look, the real key actor is jim mattis over in the pentagon. and he's surrounded by rational people. you've got a good deputy now, thank god. so, i think again, he'll be working his own contacts in japan, south korea, australia, china, trying to cool a situation down. the north koreans are not let gog of their nukes for any reason, dr. bill perry, our brilliant former sec def has been arguing that for the past year. china is not going to strangle them economically, we're going to deal with a nuclear power, north korea, which by the way, today, we're in very little danger. this system of theirs couldn't even possibly be believed to
work effectively, but it will in the foreseeable future. so we have to deal with it in a thoughtful manner. >> is secretary mattis today explaining away the president's comments in as frankly a manner as you just did? that this was just an impulsive reaction? this is the way president trump riffs with the press that he despises? you know general mattis well, how does someone like general mattis explain his boss to his counterparts around the world? in places like japan and china? >> i don't think it's explainable. i think, you know, we had vice president pence in europe, eastern europe sounding like ronald reagan, we've got mattis being frank and hr mcmaster with his ph.d. and his experience, so we've got some very stable people, thankfully, involved in this, but, you know, john kelly can't control a president, and that's not his job. he's supposed to organize 2,000
people at work in the white house and be a sensible point of contact to the cabinet. i think he'll do that, but i think we have what we have in president trump. >> well, if you can't control -- i guess my question is, i want to believe that secretary mattis can get on the phone and calm the nerves of other militaries around the world, but if no one can control the president, what assurance does general mattis have that the president isn't going to get on twitter and ratchet up this language even further? >> well, i think they expect this sort of thing day-to-day. you know, mattis has right behind his desk a large encrypted phone with a red button on it and he call the president of the united states wherever he is in the world. i don't know how he'll deal with this sort of thing. and by the way, you can back off it and say, well, you know, north korea hopefully that has thoughtful young people who are
aware of what we're dealing with who will reassure kim jong-un, but, you know, one of your earlier guests said president trump sounded like kim jong-un. this is not a good way to go about it. we need thoughtful, sober -- and when you threaten somebody, you threaten them in private, and in a credible way. and you tell i'm more prepared to following through with it. this is babble coming out of the president right now. and it's not helpful. >> general, we just to want tell our viewers we're keeping an eye on the opioid briefing that's happening in bedminister. if they veer into this territory, we to want bring it to you with the president making this remarkable statement. general, i want to ask you one last question, for all the men and women serving in the united states military, what do they hear when the commander in chief says they will be met with fire, fury, and power, the likes which have the world has never seen? >> well, you know, my
experience, i tell people, is we want our captains to be hyperaggressive war fighters. we want the senior people to be sober-minded, older, and cautious. though, i don't think this is a good signal the u.s. armed forces either. >> let me just -- i'm sorry to keep you, but it's so amazing to try to translate how the president's words are heard among men and women serving around the world, and let me just ask you a last question, you talked about the stable actors around the president, not being able to do anything, what does that portend for the future of our relationships, not just with adversaries like kim jong-un, but with people who are sort of on to donald trump? people like vladimir putin. >> well, i think you know the ones we have to worry about are our friends, not our enemies. i think the enemies are probably a little bit uneasy about trump and don't to want provoke him, but i think our friends are trying to sort out, what are
these people up to? for god sakes, nato's the fulcrum upon which u.s. national security is based. and we have a president that making happy faces with poor mr. putin with his third tier country, a second tier military, lots of loose nukes, nothing they can sell except oil and gas, what does all of this mean being insulting to angela merkel, a vital u.s. ally, i don't know. i think, again, we're going to get through this. congress is acting pretty thoughtful, the judicial branch, mattis in the pentagon, that's good news. i think we're going to be okay, but this is an unusual situation. >> thank you so much for spending some time with us on what is an unusual day under unusual circumstances. we're grateful for your time. susan glasser, let me pick up with you though, i mean, palpable, exasperation with the
recklessness of this president's words. >> you know, look, we don't know what it means, and partially, you think about the difference between any white house that has a normal communications strategy -- >> how about a normal president? >> i guess -- >> we have the president we have. >> are we normalizing him by analyzing what the statement means? >> i guess in if realtime, are we getting played? is this a shiny object, is bob mueller honing in? what are we doing phillip rucker? >> we're missing 201. >> he should. >> so, seriously, what are we doing? have we been played? was this a joke on us? >> i think, i think what general mccaffrey said is really true? having worked over 20 years with the military in the national security infrastructure, what i notice is that when we really mean it, we give a quiet, you know, even through diplomatic channels threat. we don't usually use our military to levy the threat.
and so i think what the president did, it doesn't come off -- it doesn't strike me as serious and right now i'm certain that secretary tillerson and others, general -- secretary mattis are on the phone with their counterparts, not just our allies, but obviously also the countries we have adversarial relationships or tense relationships with, china, russia, and explaining to them what our plan is. i don't think, yes, we want to put pressure on china and they may be, they may have some kind of madman strategy in the back of their heads. but i think that would be limited to an inner suckcircle the white house. secretary mattis understands what needs to be done here. >> nicole, you know, something that general mccaffrey said, i think we should key in on. secretary mattis is the secretary of defense. hr mcmaster is a national security advisor. john kelly is the chief of staff, all generals. we are, right now, the united states of america, which is
supposed to have a civilian-run military, is now depending on retired generals. >> reporter: we have a military run west wing. >> yes. we are depending on these generals to safeguard our country, potentially from the commander in chief. the idea that mattis is on the phone, which, you know, under normal circumstances, that'd be great that the secretary of defense can pick up the phone and call militaries around the country to calm them down. but the united states shouldn't be about calming them down because of things said by the president of the united states, whether he's playing us or not, this has an impact around the world. and if he is playing us, shame on him. >> elise, let me ask you real quick though, i want your reaction, but i also want you to respond to something that short lived anthony scaramucci said, he said he was going to go and whack or whatever word he used for it, i think we'd have to bleep it if we used his actual words, all the people that were
trying to protect america from donald trump. it sounds like it's a legitimate thing to try to protect america and the world from donald trump. >> his words are scary. his words escalate an already tense situation. i'm also really situation. i'm also really concerned about his actions and incompetence with this administration. you were talking about how he had plenty of generals who are surrounding the president. what about diplomats? why don't we have an ambassador to south korea? why don't we have the assistant secretary of east asia at the department of defense, we don't have anyone running point there on the policy. i don't know what is -- there is no diplomatic strategy right now that i see. >> all right. we are covering this breaking news. we're keeping an eye on that briefing at bedminster that was supposed to be about an opioid briefing. but we're keeping an eye on kellyanne conway and secretary of health and human services
price, who may or may not respond to the president's remark in the last hour that the north koreans will be met with fire, fury and power, the likes of which we've never seen. thank you so much. thank you! so we're a go? yes! we got a yes! what does that mean for purchasing? purchase. let's do this. got it. book the flights! hai! si! si! ya! ya! ya! what does that mean for us? we can get stuff. what's it mean for shipping? ship the goods. you're a go! you got the green light. that means go! oh, yeah. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we're gonna hit our launch date! (scream)
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>> no, i think the president's comments were very strong and obvious and all of you covered them live. and i would defer to other members of his cabinet to comment further. >> anything you want to add -- >> that was our own kristen welker shouting a question to presidential counselor kellyanne conway, the fire and fury that the president promised. before we went to break, i asked if he're getting played, if this is a shiny object. she made an interesting comment there, a comment that you took live. the press pool reported it out. they're very aware of what we chase and when we chase it. do you think we do fall into a trap of chasing something like this, letting it wipe out -- we had a whole show planned. we were going to spend a block on -- i'll just reveal this, we were going to talk about an a.p. report about how mike pence might be getting ready to run for president. we'll hit all of these
headlines, mr. president. didn't fool us. we were going to talk about a historically low poll number, this president sits at 33% and it's a lie his base is growing. we were going to talk about any developments -- are we falling down the rabbit hole when he says something like this? >> well, look, when he says something like that, it's a presidential statement. i think we have an obligation to cover it. this is a big issue. there was a new disclosure today about what the u.s. intelligence agencies are determining about north korea's capabilities. and that's news and it happened. you know, it has the side effect -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> there's all sorts of other stuff. >> we were going to talk about -- susan, i thought barry mccaffrey came very close -- general mccaffrey to saying that what mattis had to do was ignore the commander in chief. he had to get on the phone to
other military leaders. now, why would you ignore the commander in chief, because he's not credible? is it because he's not capable? is it because he's not reliable or because he's not read in? >> look, the bottom line is, this is the kind of story and coverage that donald trump hates. he's hated it from the second he took office. the idea that the generals that he personally installed as the way he looks at it, are seen as the adults in the room who will somehow restrain and stop president trump from undertaking impulsive or misguided foreign policy steps. now we've just had this statement where the president of the united states is threatening north korea in response to the advancement of their nuclear weapons program. my question is, in some way, we don't know what prompted this statement. it's clearly not part of a carefully orchestrated white house communications policy. is it possible that the president of the united states is resisting his own advisers
and signaling to them as much as to kim jong-un, there are no adults in the room except for me. i'm in charge. i'm the decider here, if you will. and to me, this has an echo of that. remember, a couple of weeks ago, when donald trump said, why are we -- that was after months after his own national security adviser recommending a plan for action in afghanistan that donald trump did not approve. and i think that's why we do pay close attention to donald trump's personal statements. it's not so much that he's playing us. he has used statements like this to telegraph significant foreign policy information about his views, and i believe this is a significant statement for that reason. >> john, it's also all we have. he doesn't do press conferences or a lot of interviews. so when he speaks to the pool or tweets, it's all we have. >> it is all we have. and we have a duty to report it and a duty to put it in context, which is why the conversation we've had over the last hour,
even though it's blown up the entire show, is very, very important because we have covered many, many things here, including the last very important point that susan brought up, which is when the president does stuff like this, you're right the ask are we being played? what susan said will now forever change the way i view a presidential tweet or any kind of statement. who are the audiences he's talking to? we thought, i thought he was talking to north korea. who he's really talking to, listening to my adviser susan here, is h.r. mcmaster and secretary mattis and anyone else who is standing in his way. president trump comes from the new york media market where if you want to talk to somebody, you talk to them through the media. we've gone through a campaign in 201 days of an entire administration trying to communicate with a boss who won't listen to them through the press, through television and newspapers. what we're seeing is a commander in chief doing the same thing. >> all right.
ten second last word, elise. >> it's dark. we're forced to talk about it. this could be hundreds of thousands of civilians, world war iii. of course we have to. but it is painful to think that we are somewhat maybe being used by a president who is lashing out his own advisers. >> wagging the dog. that's what they call it. thanks to everyone. that does it for our hour. i'm nicolle wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. hi, chuck. >> i keep trying to comfort myself, it's just august. it's just somebody that's bored. >> you promised august pain. i blame you. >> maybe the rhetoric is just due to boredom. thank you. if it's tuesday, president trump sends quite the new warning over to north korea. tonight, going nuclear. >> north korea has passed a significant milestone. >> what north korea's latest advancement in their nuclear program means for the safety of the united states.